Below are some samples articles from the November 23rd issue. The rest of the newsletter, and previous editions, are available for download via the following link-
www.manchesterclimatefortnightly.info. You can also subscribe by emailing info [at] manchesterclimatefortnightly.info with "subscribe" in the header
We lead with the story that although Manchester City Council has stated it aims for Manchester to be Britain's greenest by 2010, it has actually slipped further down in the annual rankings of Forum for the Future (these rankings are under review, but a great leap forwards for our sunny city
would be a surprise...)
Our second story is on the “Climate Change Foundation”, a proposal that has so far received scant coverage in the mainstream press.
All the usual features are here too-
a Calendar bursting with events, including Sat 29th's Chomsky at 80, www.chomskyat80.org.uk
a Digest of local, national and global news (with more on the website)
Campaign updates “Read All About it” and other goodies.
1) Green Smoke and Murky MirrorsThe fine detail is in dispute, but the big picture isn't: Manchester is greening much more slowly- if indeed it is at all- than the Council hoped. On November 10 Forum for the Future (www.forumforthefuture.org) released its 'Sustainable Cities Index.' Bristol was named “the most sustainable city in Britain,” for its recycling, composting
and waste collection programmes, open spaces and clean water.
Manchester rated 15th, down from12th place in 2007. All this when Manchester City Council is aiming to be the greenest city in Britain by 2010...
When MCFly tried to learn more about the ratings, we found that the 2008 list had been disappeared. Forum for the Future told us: “We're reviewing all the data... after an error was brought to our attention and have taken it off our website in the meantime. It's important to
have accurate figures which councils can use to benchmark their efforts and we will be reissuing these as soon as we have completed our review.”
With this in mind, MCFly approached the Council, asking what concrete actions had been taken in the last year that would give a reasonable expectation of a better rating.
Councillor Richard Cowell, Executive Member for the Environment said “We're disappointed to have come 15th on the index this year, but we're currently awaiting the result of Forum For The Future's own review of its data. .Combating climate change is a major priority for the City Council
and we're currently working on a detailed report to be launched in the near future, detailing how we're going to reach our target of reducing CO2 emissions by one million tonnes by 2020.”
Brian Candleland, chair of Manchester Green Party, was less sanguine.
“Whilst Forum for the Future have identified some inconsistencies in their data.... it is likely that the positions are broadly correct,” he said. “At least Manchester cannot have done worse than last year, unless a missing climate change strategy could incur minus points. [see MCFly 3 "Where's the Strategy?"] The 2007 survey said that cities like Manchester that went for grand projects performed poorly. The indication is that “trophy-collecting” distracts from the broader criteria of what makes a sustainable and liveable city."
Martin Empson of Campaign Against Climate Change, speaking in a personal capacity, demanded that “the council should be looking at radical solutions rather than relying on the goodwill of local
businesses. In the current economic climate, the council should be using its powers to instigate major improvement works on housing and transport services to both reduce emissions and safeguard jobs and services."
The Manchester Evening News, which reported the debate it held on Sustainable Cities in October, seems not to have had the space to pass on the bad news to its readers. Alex Solk, chair of Future
Pro.Manchester, the young professionals arm of Pro.Manchester, lamented that “Manchester has some great leaders, but who is there to deliver a sustainable strategy? We should be developing policies and business practices to generate revenue in the short term and develop a sustainable city for the future in the long term.”
Ultimately though, we get the leadership we deserve. Despite activists' rhetoric about “think global, act local”, Manchester City Council has not been a focus of their activity during the past year. What will it take to get Manchester's environmentalists to engage critically with the Council? Will Howard Bernstein have to start commuting to work in a helicopter, tossing out free Easyjet vouchers as he goes, before anyone takes the blindest bit of notice?
Forum for the Future was set up in the 1990s to foster links between environmentalists, government and business, but was met with scepticism for working with the likes of BNFL and BP. This latest boo-boo won't do anything for their Index's credibility...
For more information on how councils and climate change:
Local Government Association; www.lga.gov.uk
Improvement and Development Agency; www.idea.gov.uk
Beacon Status councils; www.beacons.idea.gov.uk
Nottingham Declaration; www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/nottingham
2) Time to Apply a Little Foundation...?
MCFly spoke to one of its people with the Finger on the Pulse (or legume-
we're not really sure) about the very new “Climate Change Foundation (CCF)”, a potential new source of money for climate change action in Greater Manchester.
What is the Climate Change Foundation and where is the money going to come from?
The CCF is conceived as a means by which investment can be generated for substantial and possibly radical work on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the city region. It will be independent of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) and owned by its investors. This could give the body useful flexibility in terms of what it can fund – and how fast it can do it. It will most likely mix private sector funds with other sources such as endowments and possibly the European Investment Bank. It is possibly best viewed as a vital function of the new work on Climate Change in the city region - which may or may not be separate from the Manchester Climate Change Agency. So basically, it is an idea that is being explored but will not see light of day until well after the Environment Commission and the Manchester Climate Change Agency are open for business, and settled in, early next year. It's unlikely that public funds will be used for running the thing.
What is it supposed to achieve?
Cold Hard Cash for good and substantial Climate Change work - and cash that could be independent of the political processes of AGMA. It is also a way to get past the Town Hall credibility gap that is all too real to many sectors outside of the Town Halls of the region. It will also make real the 'investment proposition' on Climate Change -so the Foundation can say to organisations looking to reduce their emissions 'we enable you to cut your energy use/make your own low carbon energy and that will make you money - which you then use to pay us back.' An oversimplification for sure, but applicable to many circumstances - especially with a longish pay
How might it go Horribly Wrong?
* If energy stays so cheap that the investment in saving it or generating it doesn't pay. At the moment, the Recession will ensure that even cheapish energy will be worth saving [MCFly notes that on Nov 21 oil was below $50 a barrel...] New regulation will also affect this – especially in the realms of planning and Carbon Trading.
* If AGMA don't realise how valuable the Foundation could be and don't engage in it, or don't allow it to be independent.
* If people get so confused about the proliferation of Climate Change bodies that they don't get the rationale.
Watch this space- MCFly will follow the story...
3) Chomsky at 80
On Saturday 29th November there will be a day of workshops and discussions on issues Noam Chomsky has covered. Not a love-in about him, more a chance to talk to people.
Central Hall, Oldham St, Manchester, from 10 to 5 www.chomskyat80.org.uk